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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 25 February, 2003, 12:10 GMT
Kenya seizes poached ivory
By Ishbel Matheson
BBC, Nairobi

Wildlife authorities in Kenya have made their biggest seizure of ivory for three years.

Kenyan herds were decimated before the ivory trade was banned
Five men were arrested in northern Kenya with a load of 33 elephant tusks.

The Kenyan Wildlife Service says this underlines fears that the one-off sale of ivory for Southern African states agreed at the international Cites conference last year could be encouraging poachers and illegal dealers.

The tusks were seized at a road-block following a local tip-off.

The five men arrested were Kenyan and they were on their way to the Ethiopian border where they expected to sell the tusks for a large profit.


Environment Minister Dr Newton Kulundu said the seizure underlined the need to keep the ban on the ivory trade intact.

Ivory auction in Zimbabwe
Several Southern African countries want to sell their ivory

"If this ban was lifted then our elephant population would be wiped out. I think our security forces would not be able to cope with the deluge of poachers and other bandits into Kenya in search of elephants to kill for ivory," he said.

Kenyan Wildlife officials say that the haul could be linked to the decision by the Cites wildlife conference in Santiago last year to allow Southern African nations to conduct a one-off sale from their ivory stockpiles.

Kenya believes this move sends the wrong signal to those involved in the illegal trade.

But wildlife officials also admit that more could be done in Kenya.

Even if the five suspects involved in this case are found guilty, it is unlikely they will go to jail.

The maximum fine is around $600s - a small sum compared to the profits to be made from ivory.

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13 Nov 02 |  Africa
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12 Nov 02 |  Sci/Tech
Call for ban on trade of ivory
30 Oct 02 |  Hardtalk
Ivory trade 'increasing' despite ban
04 Oct 02 |  Asia-Pacific

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